World Rugby vice chairman Agustin Pichot is to lead an inquest into the make-up and design of the the international eligibility protocols which allows players to represent a country other than that of their birth.
The inquest is seen as a defensive measure to protect the health of the game in countries who perennially suffer from the permutations of such rules such as the Pacific Island nations who constantly see a host of their star talent pull on the jerseys of opposing nations.
While this investigation is said to be met with some controversy, primarily from the benefactors of the rule, Pichot has stated that he is not a fan as a minimum period of residency lasting three years is too short a time-frame to enable players to switch their allegiance between nations.
“There are special cases where players moved when they were ten or twelve years old,” he said.
“But just moving to a country, being taken from an Academy, like they are doing in Tonga, and put into play, say, in an Ireland shirt, I’m against it. I think it is not right.”
Such an inquest will have serious connotations on the majority of top-tier rugby playing nations including Ireland who have included no fewer than four overseas exponents in their travelling squad of South Africa; including: kiwi Jared Payne, who crossed over the whitewash for Ireland at the weekend aswell as serving as a bedrock in defence, and three South African born and bred players in the form of Quinn Roux, Richardt Strauss and talisman CJ Stander.
A host of rubgy’s biggest names can be included in this list with the likes of Quade Cooper, Will Genia, David Pocock and Stephen Moore having all qualified for Australia through residency having respectively come from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe and with Stephen Moore being born to Irish parents and having lived in Saudi Arabia until the age of five.
Closer to home, Scottish winger Tim Visser isn’t named the ‘Flying Dutchman’ for no particular reason, while the Vunipola brothers having spent their formative years in Sydney Australia, subsequently moved to Wales before going on to represent England at underage level.
Pichot was part of a World Rugby committee which met with the Fijian, Tongan and Samoan unions in Fiji on Saturday. The Pacific Islanders have requested the committee to propose a recommendation to the governing body in October as these three nations are constantly being drained of talent due to the sheer athleticism, speed, power and size of the natural talent which is harnessed there, making them a prime target for the higher ranked nations, primarily the likes of the All Blacks and Australia.
World Rugby has stated it’s commitment to the development of the game within the Pacific Island nations to the tune of [STG]4 million ($Aus 7.7 million) which shall provide for investment into development and high performance programmes.
The inquest will also investigate future high performance investment levels, the conduct of agents, player movement regulations, future competition pathways, player release regulations and the conduct of non-union rugby academies.
(source via espn.co.uk)